Monday, November 20, 2017

Charlie Manson dead

Hippie cult leader Charles Manson dead at 83 
I do not want this man to rest in peace, but he was more of a boogy-man and a symbol of the end of the 60's love era than anything else. His kill quota is puny by today's standards, but he put fear into the hearts of wealthy white folks, so he was reviled.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

RIP Hawkwind's Michael Davies


RIP Malcolm Young

Malcolm Young, AC/DC Guitarist and Co-Founder, Dead at 64
I'm getting really tired of all of these rock'n'rollers not far from my age passing on. Not unexpected in this case, but super sad anyway.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Boris, Torche and Endon at the Bunkhouse, Thursday Nov 16, 2017

I've been a fan of Boris for close to ten years now (doesn't seem that it's been that long) thanks to my rockin' pal Dan Epstein, but never had a chance to see them and didn't think that I would - especially in a small club. So, of course, when I found out they were going to play in Las Vegas at the Bunkhouse, of course, I had to be there!

It would have been impossible not to notice the huge amount of Orange amps and assorted other equipment decorating the stage when you first walk in. Boris is known for their affiliation with Orange. so that didn't come as a surprise, but the sheer wall of amplification was pretty startling and gave us an indication of the volume we were in for over the course of the evening!

First up was another Japanese band named Endon, with two keyboardists/noise manipulators, guitar, drums and singer. The instrumentalists took the stage first and spent a good five minutes or so blasting'n'blaring a single chord at top volume which seemed at first to not change in any way, but then you noticed minuscule changes in dynamics, then some major stop-on-a-dime kinetics and then, with the introduction of the singer (fairly unstylish in baggy t-shirt and long shorts), a song emerged. They were supremely heavy, Loud and Intense (with a capital "L" and "I"!) and the vocalist simply screamed'n'shrieked and sometimes whimpered through each number. There was a lot of a-rhythmic noize from the keys/synth/whatevers - one had what looked like a metallic satchel that he strummed, pounded and bent for various effects - along with some cool guitar lines and powerfully crazed drumming. I don't know if it would be something that I would listen to at home - I will have to give it a try - but they were an amazing live act!

For me, Torche was slightly out of place in that they were a more traditional 2 guitar/bass/drums line up that played a more standard, modern hard rock/heavy metal, albeit with a fair amount of effects. They were all down-tuned to the point of wobbly strings (down to "C", maybe?) and the songs weer simple'n'monotonous but with drivin' beats. Not bad, but not particularly interesting, either.

As a three piece band, Boris relies on a large number of effects to create the mix of heavy metal, punk and ambient sounds that they are known for. Unfortunately, on this night, that caused countless problems as they had innumerable issues with everything from one of their microphones (I couldn't understand this, unless it was gong through some effects, as well) to their pedals to an amp needing to be replaced. Their set started a good 1/2 hour later than was scheduled and issues continued into the set, with them letting backing tracks of white noise run while problems were resolved. Once they got going, they began with a huge introduction, including fog machines, laser lights and more, with their super-dramatic, make-up wearin' drummer providing lots of visuals. Regrettably, they playaed almost none of their heavier, more rockin' numbers in favor of big, sustained, drawn-out chords, slow beats and lots'n'lots of gong! Very psychedelic, reminding me of early Pink Floyd at times - certainly a band to see while stoned! The female guitarist played some great, piercing leads, while the other instrumentalist - he played a double-necked bass/guitar - filled out the sound with full chords and bass runs - all through an incomprehensible number of pedals! An accordion was brought out at one point for a keyboard-like sound (definitely no polkas here!) and the droning tones continued throughout the set - you could see some hippie-dancin' in the crowd. Between the technical issues and the lack of more upbeat numbers mixed into the set, the crowd thinned out as the set went on and even we were worn out (it was a work night) and took off before the conclusion. It was great to see them in an intimate setting (from their stage show, we assume that they normally play bigger venues), but we wish they varied the set a bit and, of course, didn't have the problems that they did. That said, I would certainly check them out again if given a chance!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

recommended gigs

Thursday Nov 16 - Boris with Torche at the Bunkhouse

Friday Nov 17 - the Psyatics, Calabrese, Strange Mistress at the Bunkhouse
Friday Nov 17 - the Super Zeroes at the Double Down
Friday Nov 17 - The Sloths, the Quacks at the Griffin

Saturday Nov 18 - Gwar at Fremont Country Club
Saturday Nov 18 - Dr Phobic and the Phobic-Tones at Tenaya Creek Brewery

Sunday Nov 19 - Gallows Bound, Guttermouth, Koffin Kats at the Beauty Bar

Wednesday Nov 22 - Basstravaganza with Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Friday Nov 24 - The Heiz, the Psyatics, Negative Nancys, New Waves, Rocket to Russia at the Double Down

Saturday Nov 25 - Double Down 25th anniversary show with the Dickies, the Dwarves, Throw Rag, the Heiz, Kings of the Wild Frontier, Dirk Vermin and the Hostile Talent, the Swank Bastards and Franks'n'Deans - starts at 5:00 pm

Sunday Nov 26 - Goldtop Bob, Uberschall at the Double Down

Tues Nov 28 - the Reeves Bros at the Sand Dollar

Friday Dec 1 - The Supersuckers, the Bell Rays and the Bombpops at Backstage Bar and Billiards

Saturday Dec 2 - The Swamp Gospel and the Psyatics at the Huntridge Tavern

Saturday Dec 9 - Barnyard Stompers, Franks'n'Deans, Whiskey Breath at the Dive Bar

Sunday Dec 10 - the Rhyolite Sound with the Barnyard Stompers at Hogs and Heifers

Saturday Dec 16 - The Swamp Gospel at the Double Down

Wednesday Jan 24 - the Psyatics, the Pine Hill Haints, Slow Motion Cowboys at the Double Down

Thursday Feb 1 - Rev Horton Heat, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Shanda and the Howlers at Backstage Bar and Billiards

Friday Feb 16 - HaHa Tonka, the Unwieldies, Paige Overton at the Beauty Bar

Thursday April 19 - the Terrorsaurs, Psyatics, Swank Bastards at the Double Down

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Monday, November 13, 2017

'68 - In Humor and Sadness

On this release, duo Josh and Michael elected to title the songs "Track 1 - R", "Track 2 - E", etc. in order to spell out Regret Not. Here, the band is maniacal'n'crazed, with "intense" being the best description. Josh shrieks'n'howls, barks'n'bawls over a clamorous backing of guitars destroying amplifiers while drummer Michael smashes'n'bashes, starts'n'stops and propels the songs into the stratosphere. As with Two Parts Viper, there are other instruments tracked'n'attacked and the whole proceeding seems to be screaming in pain. This debut is rawer and more primitive than TPV, with Josh bellowing more in the style that he used in The Chariot, although he does use dynamics and quieter parts in which he actually sings.

This band is not something that you could listen to any time as "intense" is putting it mildly for most of this, but these two have become one of my new favorite acts with their insane live act and these extraordinarily extreme albums. Not for the faint of heart, as they say, but a great, wild ride.

'68 - Two Parts Viper

I know nothing about singer/guitarist Josh's previous band, The Chariot, but after seeing this duo (with drummer Michael and plenty of effects on both vocals and guitar) a few weeks ago, I had to pick up their music (they were sold out of everything at the gig). The live show is incredible - absolutely crazed the entire time, with both members moving everywhere and never sitting still - even the drummer! Their sound is kinda like Jack White fronting a punkier/trashier Monster Magnet while on a bad acid trip! I know that all duos get compared to the White Stripes (and these cats kinda also remind me of Nina Coyote and Chica Tornado), but using similar sounds - a splitter for the guitar so that there are bass tones, as well - creates some similarities. Regardless, '68 infuses plenty of their own black magic into the mix to create something different from the rest.

On this disc, there's dynamics galore, feedback everywhere, shriekin'n'whoopin' vocals and starts'n'stops - and that's all in the first couple of minutes! "Whether Terrified or Unafraid" has more of all of this madness, along with some White Stripe-isms, vocals effects, call'n'answering, and chanting breaks. "Without Any Words" is almost like a cross between Nirvana and the Black Keys, "This Life is Old" does sound like White, "No Montage" is part pure howl and part soft melodies, "No Apologies" rides on dynamics and wild intensity with a spoken monologue in the middle, lots of extra layers of instruments work to good effect on "The Workers Are Few" and Josh sounds like he is in pain in "Life Has No Design". IN the last couple of numbers, there are riffs-a-go-go in "Death is a Lottery" along with keys which add more melody'n'drama and for the appropriately titled finale, "What More Can I Say", has almost Boris-like layers of keys and other instruments counter-balancing Josh's manic vocal delivery.

There is not much new under the sun these days, but '68 does an interesting and wild take on these ideas and gives it their own spit'n'polish. One of my fave new projects. And see them if you can - amazing in a live setting!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Living Like a Runaway – Lita Ford

The foreward by Dee Snider immediately starts with a bad tone by saying that Lita was the only member of the Runaways that was a “serious musician” and that when she went solo she was “no longer held back by other less-committed band members”! Does he not realize that Joan Jett was the first Runaway to have a hit solo career and that she is still rocking, having never stopped (unlike Lita)? Bizarre…

In any case, LIta tells her story of growing up with very understanding and supportive parents, digging heavy metal - Tony Iommi and Ritchie Blackmore were huge influences - and learning solos from repeated listening to the great albums of the time. Eventually, after playing and jamming with high school friends, word got around about this young, female player and Kim Fowley gave her a call to have her audition for the Runaways. She talks some shit about the other girls, especially Jackie, for some reason, but became friends with Sandy, even though she was freaked out enough by the lesbianism that she quit the band for a short period before coming to grips with it and realizing that the music was more important. 

Lita is justifiably proud of her work with the Runaways, and they were important as groundbreaking, young female rockers, but she continually writes as if there were no female musicians before them, which obviously is not the case (even though some of the reviews claim that is was). This continues throughout the book and almost seems like she is trying to convince herself of her importance. She tells tales of their tours with the Ramones, of meeting many stars (70’s rockers were certainly intrigued by these young femmes and she had affairs with Iommi, Blackmore and others, and hung out with most of the big stars) and touring Japan. Jackie quit the band while in Japan and, after several temporary bassists, the band simply dissolved.

Eventually she got her own band going – with revolving members – and put out her debut album on the Runaways’ label, Mercury. She became big for a while, partly as the novelty of a female hair metal rocker (as opposed to down’n’dirty rockers like Girlschool), did some major tours and then lost her momentum, along with most of the other hair metal bands, with the advent of grunge. Issues with management and record companies exacerbated the problems and she quit music to get married and have kids.

She doesn’t go into details about her husband for the sake of her kids, but it was not a happy and loving relationship, so these times were not good for her. He was extremely controlling of every aspect of their lives, moved them around, spent millions of dollars and eventually took her kids away from her during their divorce.

But, after the divorce she was able to return to music and, other than being separated from her kids, seems to be reasonably happy to have a revitalized career. She has had some contact with Joan and Cherie, but there does not seem to be any interest in a Runaways reunion. Such is life.

While not a natural writer, Ford has many stories to tell and is not ashamed of her life filled with plenty of sex, drugs and alcohol along with her rock'n'roll. Certainly an interesting read for fans.

The Price of Dirt, The Swamp Gospel, This is a Train Wreck, Water Landing at the Double Down, Saturday Nov 11, 2017

Although the Swamp Gospel were added to a fun show at the Huntridge at the last minute a couple of weeks ago, we hadn't had a "proper" show for a good 6 months of so. Our pals Water Landing asked us to join them for this Saturday night show, and we happily obliged.

Opening the night was an acoustic duo made up of Eric from Water Landing and his cousin, with Eric on mandolin and cuz on guitar. Well done folk-y songs with good vocals and harmonies and mandolin leads. They even got some of the early crew dancin'! Not the usual fare for the Double Down, but a nice start.

The Swamp Gospel appeared before a fairly small congregation - apparently our hiatus did not increase our audience! - but put our all into our soul-savin' sanctifyin' and seemingly added a few folks to the fold.

(Above photos by Nikki Ruffling)

(Above photos by Ron Hudy)

This is a Train Wreck came out from Sherman Oaks, Ca to serenade the Double Down with their own brand of melodic punk rock. Plenty of energy, lots of vocals and nice guys, too!

It's been a while since i've caught a Water Landing show and they were in super form this evening, with singer/guitarist Eric taking over the club and rarely sitting still, while Ron, Jules and Daniel held down the fort. Although Eric is the main lead singer, everyone had a chance to sing a number and they closed their set of new-wavey r'n'r with covers of "Wooly Bully" and the Violent Femmes "Blister in the Sun"! Fun times!

Thanks to Water Landing and the Double Down for hosting the event and to everyone who came out!

Friday, November 10, 2017

RIP Fred Cole

Dead Moon, Pierced Arrows’ Fred Cole Dead at 69
Goddamnit - another great one gone. Cole's Lollipop Shoppe influenced countless garage combos and he continued - and never stopped rockin' - in many incarnations, including Pierced Arrows, Dead Moon and many more. I saw him and him and his wife and co-rocker, Toody, just last year and he was damn inspirational and he & Toody had a real connection. Best to her and may his memory never fade.